Local Vendor Spotlight: Cook E. Jar & Baking Co.
Amazingly irresistible cookies made in Redwood City by Lois Cobb’s family-run business
It might seem like we planned it this way, but it’s simply a mere coincidence that Cook E. Jar is featured as a local vendor in this issue. As of today, November 4, 2009, it has been exactly one year since we began selling Lois Cobb’s amazingly irresistible Cook E. Jar cookies! John Sigona, who has known Lois as a Sigona’s customer for more than 20 years, says he remembers the date with ease as it was Election Day.
“It’s been a pleasure to work with Sigona’s,” said Lois. “I met John the first week they opened their Redwood City store, and transitioning from a customer from a vendor was very smooth. All three of the Sigonas, John, Paul and Carmelo, have always been understanding and wonderful cheerleaders, and I admire their philosophy for running a family business.”
As a child, Lois and her family lived in the Hunter’s Point “housing projects” of San Francisco before they moved to Menlo Park in 1955, but she remembers when her mother and father shopped for groceries at the Wonder Bread bakery which sold discounted day-old goods, resulting in boxes of broken cookies.
“I would seriously scrounge through that big box hoping to find just one cookie that wasn’t broken,” Lois said. “I know you usually break a cookie before you eat it anyway, but there was a novelty behind finding a whole, perfectly round cookie. It was around that time that I started baking cookies for our family and the neighborhood.”
Lois used to watch and help her mother in the kitchen in her childhood home. The recipes she uses for her cookies today started in that same kitchen, too; some are from her mother, others are from her aunt. “It was always hard to get a written recipe from my mother. She was from the South and was an amazing cook – our home always had a wonderful aroma. She would just make up recipes on the spot and never wrote much down.
“I still love spending time cooking with family, just as my mother used to do,” Lois continued. “I especially love spending time in the kitchen with my two grandsons, Jadon and Justus.”
The ingredients used in Cook E. Jar products are sourced as locally as possible. Lois uses Guittard chocolate, which is made in Burlingame, raisins from Eric Schedowith Farms in Fresno, and walnuts which are also sourced from a local farmer. Cook E. Jar currently offers eight different cookie varieties: chocolate chip, chocolate chip & walnuts, double chocolate mocha, peanut butter, oatmeal raisin with walnuts, butter pecan, snickerdoodles and oatmeal-cranberry with white chocolate & pecans. Her favorite? Double chocolate mocha.
“I would gladly take the ‘Pepsi Challenge’ with one of Lois’s chocolate chip cookies paired against someone else’s” said John Nava, specialty foods buyer for Sigona’s. “Lois makes the best soft chocolate chip cookies in the store, they make you want to run and grab a huge glass of milk. In fact, I do that – sometimes I’ll polish off a whole bag in one sitting. They’re soft-baked cookies and you can tell they’re made with love.”
Lois hasn’t always sold her cookies in a retail setting, though now that she looks back she wishes she would have started earlier in life. As resident of East Palo Alto, Lois has always been involved with organizations that benefit the community, such as the American Cancer Society. She was also a consultant for small and non-profit businesses to help increase their revenue. “Now that I’m in my mid-60s I say to myself, ‘oh if I had started [my business] when I was young!’ I’d like to tell young women that if they have passion and a skill, why not just follow that passion,” she said.
The Cook E. Jar & Baking Co., which is also a family-run business, is made up of Lois and her husband Jon, their son and daughter-in-law as well as a baking intern. They hope to soon expand their product line to include cakes, pies and cheesecake. As a bonus for you, we’re offering a special pack of two freshly baked Cook E. Jar cookies and two Emmi Caffe Lattes for free from 11/4-11/10/09 with your purchase of $30 or more. Be sure to print out the e-news coupon to redeem this delicious offer!